The New New Nutrition Label

At long last the nutrition label is getting a makeover, thanks in part to the First Lady. As someone interested in health and nutrition, I'm pretty excited. As an up and coming user experience professional I can't help but think, "what will this be like for the consumer?"  

Including "added sugars" is a big deal because up till now it's been hard to tell where a product's sugar is coming from. Fruit has sugar in it. Plain yogurt has sugar in it. So it will be nice to know how much of the sugar in your strawberry yogurt comes from strawberries and yogurt, vs. corn syrup or cane sugar. 

But I still believe that for the average consumer, context is missing. A typical American has no idea how much a gram is. We can't picture 10 grams of protein or 20 grams of sugar, which makes it difficult to understand what we're really eating. It's not all the metric system's fault though; I don't think we'd understand 0.35oz any better. The amounts of nutrients in a single serving are just too small to visualize. 

When I read a nutrition label I'm less interested in the amount of each nutrient than the proportion of nutrients. It's interesting and helpful to understand that by weight almonds are 50% fat, and about 20% protein. And if somebody saw that what they were about to eat was 50% sugar they might think twice. There are limitations to this, to be sure. A can of coke is 355ml, which is roughly 355 grams. It contains 39g of sugar so it is only about 11% sugar by weight, which doesn't seem so bad. But almost all of the other 89% is water, and there are no other nutrients besides that sugar.

Below is a mock-up I have been thinking about for a while. It's not perfect but it could help people better understand what they are eating, which to me is the whole point of the nutrition label to begin with. What do you think?